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Project Aegis.Biodefense : Defense against Malignant Synthetic Biothreat Agents

Framework implementation : Infection Control, Prevention, and Treatment

We are seeking to develop an architecture for Defense against Malignant Synthetic Biothreat Agents to address the changing biodefense landscape as a result of advances in synthetic biology.

Aside from its potential to change industries and lives usefully, synthetic biology has vastly accelerated the capability to design, develop and produce biological organisms or threat agents.

Consequently, development of a systematic, coherent architecture is sought through which we can become aware of, understand the nature of, and respond to attacks or releases manifested of synthetic biothreats agents.

We seek an architecture that would enable an overall characterization process but that would also go beyond characterization to include understandings of other elements of biodefense, including prevention, protection, response and recovery. We anticipate that the proposed architecture will have multiple elements to ensure effective defense against the range of potential attack outcomes.

Current research being done and peer collaboration we would like to develop includes:

System Studies: Research to conduct studies and analysis to identify gaps in technology and operational concepts and to support formulation of requirements for chemical and biological countermeasure development. Current specific areas of interests are transit system defensive architectures and surveillance architectures to detect and/or characterize a biological attack.

CBRN Risk Analysis and the Biological Threat Characterization Program (BTCP): Research and development of next generation and novel methodological approaches to terrorism risk analysis, intentional attack analysis, scenario modeling and simulation to understand the impact of a biological attack on the country. Biological threat information requirements are identified and prioritized.

Technological and scientific developments that may adversely impact the population, homeland and interests of people. Recent developments in the field of synthetic biology (the purposeful design and construction of new biological parts, devices and systems), have changed the biodefense landscape drastically. Aside from its potential to change industries and lives usefully, synthetic biology has vastly accelerated the capability to design, develop and produce biological organisms and/or threat agents that may harm peoplesí interests, individuals, and industries. To be prepared for such a possibility, decision-makers must incorporate into their thinking the threats and risks that may stem from these developments.

Consequently, we solicit the development of an architecture to help it anticipate and defend against malignant biothreat agents of synthetic origin. This architecture should be based on sound scientific and technical principals, with component parts that complement and support each other and provide for a complete defensive posture. Responses should assess the potential feasibility and timelines for the development of synthetic biothreat agents, as well as the consequences of the use of such agents. Responses should also address gaps in the nationís ability to detect, protect against, respond to, and recover from attacks with these agents. Over the past several years, DHS S&Tís Chemical Biological Defense Division has undertaken the development of architectures to become aware of, and defend against, enhanced and advanced threat agents. These previous architectures have been organized around the categories outlined in the 2004 strategy for biodefense, Biodefense for the 21st Century (Homeland Security Presidential Directive 10): Threat Awareness, Prevention and Protection, Surveillance and Detection and Response and Recovery. The proposed synthetic agent threat architecture should conform to these organizational principles for biodefense, but not necessarily be limited to them. Originality and discretion in understanding and exploiting the multiple dimensions of the threats and opportunities available in the genomic age. Architectures should address systems concepts such as found in systems engineering and systems biology and consider how they can improve the overall architecture.

Peer Evaluation Criteria: Just a suggestion of what you should possess or try to strive towards

Criterion I: Scientific Merit: Understanding of the critical technological, scientific and system elements of the architecture. Demonstrate an awareness of the state-of-the-art, and should be well prepared with supportive, self-explanatory information. Specific requirements:
1. Demonstrate understanding of scientific details of synthetic agents and processes, and of recent applicable laboratory developments.
2. Demonstrate understanding of scientific and technical architectures, with component parts that complement and support each other and provide for a complete defensive posture.
3. Demonstrate understanding of systems perspectives, such as systems engineering and systems biology, and their relationship(s) to threats from synthetic agents.

Criterion II: Sound Management Approach: Presentation of a sound managerial approach to the proposed work, including a demonstrated understanding of the issues and challenges associated with achieving the goals of the topic, and a strategy to address those issues and challenges. A successful team will possess multidisciplinary expertise to address the complexity of the effort.

Criterion III: Capability to Perform and History of Performance: Demonstration of a capability to perform the proposed work, including history of previous performance in developing related solutions and technologies. Specific considerations will include:

ē Qualifications include a proven record of experience delivering multi-faceted assessments of the threat and/or risk from biological, chemical, and/or biopharmaceutical agents. Bibliographic information from previously published assessments could be provided; publications may be on open literature or assessments done for Government clients.
ē Team is sufficiently complete: key personnel are identified with the required range of competencies to execute this effort and the team includes appropriate experience and publication record.

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